CD-244 Nate Leath & Friends Vol. 2
Nate Leath has always had the chops. A boyhood of fiddlers’ conventions in North Carolina brought him to maturity with a mastery of bluegrass fiddle; study at Berklee further developed his technique in other genres. He has also become a wonderful old time fiddler. In a time when everyone seems to be pushed into boxes of this genre or that, Nate has pursued music without boundaries. His range of technical mastery is always in service to the music. And that is what traditional fiddlers have always done: understand the music of the past and take part in its evolution in their own time.
The explosive opening track of this album (a Nate Leath original) blends the sounds of Eastern Kentucky with a Celtic twist that, for me, evokes Cape Breton. And so commences a voyage of discovery into the elements that make traditional music, of whatever genre, so compelling, Traveling on through traditional tunes from sources such as Clyde Davenport and Tommy Jarrell, ballads from the Carter Family and Texas Gladden, there is a respect for tradition from several generations. Cellist Rashad Eggleston, especially playing Plank Road classics with Andy Williams, evokes that seminal string band of the 1970’s that featured cellist Michael Kott. But the cello, like Nate’s fiddling, takes this appreciation and understanding of music from the past to launch new rhythmic and harmonic adventures. A stellar group of musicians from the old time and bluegrass world demolish the stereotypes of genre. This is all about the music, and this music is played with extraordinary energy, brilliant technique, in creative arrangements that reflect remarkable depth and understanding.
Forget about putting this music in a box. It will just jump out singing and dancing. All the traditional musicians I knew and from whom I learned took very seriously their role as carriers of the beauty and profundity of the past in their music. But most of them also took pride in their own innovations. Art Stamper probably put it best when he said that traditional fiddlers, after learning the music that was handed down to them, must then carry it on as “musicians in their own time.” On this album, Nate, and the other great old time and bluegrass musicians he has assembled , do just that and it’s an amazing ride.